Achieving operational efficiency within the local sphere of government
Tsoai, Manale Daniel
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The study was done within the local government environment. It was conducted with the aim of assisting municipalities to achieve optimum levels of operational efficiency, following the realisation that all over the world there is an increasing need for organisations, including government organisations, to become efficient. One of the major challenges facing governments worldwide is the need for them to supply basic services to their populations, who are increasing at a disproportionate rate to the resources available to sustain and improve the quality of life of these people. Thus for government to overcome these challenges, it needs to utilise its available resources cautiously to be able to meet these escalating challenges effectively. Therefore, ten practices were presented in this study as key instruments capable of bringing about efficiency to the manner in which local government operates or delivers services. It was found during the literature review that when these practices are deployed, they will ensure the achievement of operational efficiency within the local sphere of government. The empirical study was conducted in Matjhabeng Local Municipality (MLM), located in the Northern region of the Free State Province. This local municipality came into existence on the 5th of December 2000 after the amalgamation of the former six transitional local councils into one financially viable and economically sustainable municipality. It incorporates the city of Welkom and the towns of Virginia, Odendaalsrus, Hennenman, Allanridge and Ventersburg, with an estimated population of more than 500 000 people. During the background review of the municipality, several challenges were encountered which included parts of the population without access to proper sanitation and electricity. However, in all the municipal challenges presented, it was argued that the solution can be found in the effective management of municipal input with relation to its output, which means that the municipality has the huge task of managing its scarce resources in an efficient manner to be able to deliver on its mandate and to meet the expectations of its residents. Furthermore, the study was conducted from a sample consisting of the four senior managers and twenty line managers from the four departments within the municipality. A representative sampling method was employed to ensure that all relevant aspects (such as race, gender and department), considered important for selecting a sample, are included and to also obtain global responses from respondents selected to participate in the study. Furthermore this sample was drawn from a population of nine senior managers and 35 line managers. The research was conducted with the expressed permission from the office of the accounting officer. Different impressions of the responses made by the participants from this municipality were obtained and then analysed. Overall, there was a negative response from the majority of the participants regarding most of the questions on the ten practices identified. Moreover, in terms of the devised model for measuring efficiency of the municipality based on three levels, the most desirable being Level 3, it was found that the municipality could be classified as a Level 1 organisation, which means that the municipality is at an elementary phase as far as achieving efficiency in its operations is concerned. Lastly, recommendations were made based on the findings of the empirical research conducted.